But to Trump, many Republicans and a broad constellation of surrogates and conservative media outlets, the takeaway is much different: exoneration.
“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication,” the president tweeted early on the morning after Comey’s testimony.
That point of view has ricocheted across the conservative media world, both organically and in coordination with a hastily organized rapid-response operation at the Republican National Committee. The result is a parallel narrative — reinforced by the president himself on Twitter and at a Friday news conference — that spun Comey’s testimony as a clear victory and, publicly at least, cast aside any potential dangers that may lie ahead.
That Trump’s fans will defend him to the end of time isn’t really, you know, a thing that matters. John O’Neill has been carrying Richard Nixon’s luggage for four decades now and shows no sign of stopping, and the strength of his devotion makes him no less a son of a bitch who is going to hell.
If the marker of ultimate truth these days is the inexplicable size and duration of a fan club we’re going to have to replace the U.S. Constitution with a Seinfeld VHS tape and half a bag of kale chips.
I also love the passive language that persists in letting everybody involved here off the hook. That “point of view has ricocheted” and the “result is a parallel narrative,” which has apparently developed all by itself OH WAIT:
On Friday morning, a segment on “Fox & Friends” about the reaction to Comey’s testimony bore the headline: “Mainstream Media Misfire.” Minutes later, Trump, an avid viewer, sent a Twitter message of praise: “Great reporting by @foxandfriends and so many others. Thank you!”
“Comey gives early Christmas gift to GOP,” tweeted conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.
So instead of characterizing the story as “party-run media push false narrative through coordinated attacks on FBI director,” we have a “parallel narrative” that has “resulted” as if by magic. We don’t get to this meat until halfway through the story, and the headline just erases it all in advance.
The starkly different interpretation of Comey’s testimony on the right provides another illustration of the deepening national divide over Trump, whose approval ratings are mired in the mid- to high-30s amid the Russia probe and other controversies and whose agenda has bogged down in Congress with relatively few major accomplishments so far.
So between six and seven out of ten people in America think Trump is a miserable failure, and we characterize this as a “deepening divide.” Between two equal opposites. This is why I can’t have complete contempt for Trump’s ordinary fans. If this is the story being sold by the liberal media, what on earth are they hearing from Fox?
By the way, Trump’s fans? The ones we’re told in the headline agree with the Republican operatives’ version of events?
They’re not quoted in the story.
Not a one.